Background: As policy-based approaches are increasingly proposed to address childhood obesity, this paper seeks to: (1) present the development of a system to systematically and reliably assess the nature and extent of state physical education (PE) and recess-related policies; (2) determine the inter-rater agreement in using the system; and (3) report on the variability in state policies using a December 31, 2003 baseline. Methods: The PE and Recess State Policy Classification System (PERSPCS) was developed from a conceptual framework and was informed by reviewing the scientific and gray literatures and through consultations with an expert panel and key experts. Statutes and regulations enacted as of December 31, 2003 were retrieved from Westlaw (data retrieved and analyzed in 2004-2005). Results: PERSPCS addresses five areas: PE time requirements, staffing requirements for PE, curriculum standards for PE, assessment of health-related fitness, and recess time (elementary schools only). The inter-rater agreement ranged from 0.876 (PE staffing requirements) to perfect agreement (recess time). Staffing requirements had more restrictive policies, followed in decreasing order by time requirements, curriculum standards, assessment, and recess time. Overall, state policies met minimal requirements across areas and grade levels as of December 2003. Conclusions: Extending PERSPCS to address other aspects of childhood obesity is a critical first step in understanding the range of state policy approaches in this area and their impact. PERSPCS should be examined in conjunction with school district-level policies to determine the overall effects of policies on school environmental and behavioral outcomes. PERSPCS is not designed to set policy guidelines.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health